Sunday, February 28, 2010

February - March

I spent most of my free time this weekend gearing up for a fast approaching move. While I am somewhat sad to be leaving the place my husband and I have lived in for the last five years, I am beyond excited about the extra kitchen space we'll have in our new apartment. I am a sucker for new products, and I imagine it won't take very long to fill those extra cabinets!

Goodbye February and the kitchen I've cooked in for the last 5 yrs...

Hello March and the kitchen I hope to cook in for the next 5 yrs...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cocktails At Macao Trading Co.

What I envisioned as a quick after-dinner drink with friends at Macao Trading Co. ended up playing out as a late alcohol fueled night more suited to someone ten years younger. Being that it was my first time at Macao, a restaurant/bar with European and Asian influences, I felt it my duty to sample as many cocktails as my tolerance would allow. With the help of two charismatic bartenders and a laundry list of thoughtful, exotic cocktails, it's safe to say I far surpassed that point. Inventive pairings and names like Panda Poacher (Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka mixed with black mission fig puree, honey & vanilla syrup, pressed apple cider, and yellow chartreuse) and Drunken Dragon's Milk (Charbay Green Tea Vodka shaken with young coconut puree, thai basil, and Macao five-spice bitters) made the extra cocktails much too tempting to pass up.

In addition to a restaurant and bar upstairs Macao boasts a swanky basement lounge

Our bartenders- whom I hold partially responsible for the hangover that ensued

The "Inventory"- a list of Macao's drinks including its dangerous cocktails

Pouring what will become a Westside (Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka with mint, fresh lemon juice, and a splash of soda)
In action- mixing yet another cocktail

Dr. Funk (Mekhong Thai rum with homemade grenadine, ginger beer, fresh fruits and mint, and topped off with a drizzle of absinthe)
A happy patron wearing a Baby Brother t-shirt with our bartender Vincent- who sings and plays lead guitar in the band

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Coffee & Tea Festival NYC

Tea exhibitors dominated at the sparse, disappointing 5th annual Coffee & Tea Festival NYC. The event was held this weekend on the eleventh floor at 7W New York, an excessively bright space with a sterile vibe. Folding tables draped in white lined the aisles and provided a stage for each exhibitor to display its goods. This year's participants included local and international tea and coffee, food, and soap companies (who wouldn't expect to see a soap salesperson at a coffee and tea festival- seems appropriate).

As someone with a strong affection for tea, the festival sounded promising- unfortunately the slight caffeine boost and sample laden plastic gift bag were not worth the price of admission.

The Tea Set's founder, Jacques, is originally from France but settled in Manhattan and opened a store in the West Village
Tavalon's tea infused gummy bears
A gift box from Tavalon
What would a coffee and tea event be without Starbucks
SerendipiTea provided samples of one of my favorite teas- Buccaneer
A cooled masala chai from Rishi Tea
A perfect tea accompaniment- Red Bee Honey

Montauk Beverage Works' slogan "soda is so over."
Setting up for the Korean tea ceremony
Harney & Sons sold copies of its book "Guide To Tea"
The most interesting tea I tasted at the event was a naturally sweet hydrangea leaf tea from Hancha Tea
I was told Fang's Leaves & Petals gourmet tea blends (made with dried flowers) have slimming powers
Chocolate dipped coconut macaroons from Erica's Rugelach and Baking Company
The spreadable fruits from Massachusetts based Deborah's Kitchen are all natural

Spirits-infused mini bundt cakes from The Great Spirits Baking Company
Best Friends Cocoa sold bags of its all-natural gourmet cocoa mixes
The strangest addition- glycerin soap from Primal Elements

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Terri, a café serving vegetarian fare made with organic ingredients, opened this week in the small space connected to New York Health & Racquet Club's 23rd Street location. The meatless menu caters to a lunchtime crowd with take-away (delivery is scheduled to begin this week) sandwiches, wraps, salads, smoothies, shakes and freshly squeezed juices. Examples of menu items include the Skinny Elvis sandwich (peanut butter and caramelized banana - add soy bacon and you have the Fat Elvis); the Thai Chicken wrap (meatless "chicken", thai peanut sauce, lettuce, carrots, and red and yellow peppers in a wheat wrap); the Spinach salad (spinach, hearts of palm, avocado, jicama, and red onion, topped with a creamy cilantro dressing); the Brazilian Bombshell smoothie (acai, acerola, mango, banana and soymilk); the Butterfinger and Choco Peanut Butter shake; and the Perfect Pair juice (pear, cucumber, spinach and celery).

A small ABC juice (apple, beet, and carrot) is priced at $3.67+tax. Terri's odd pricing scheme was created to minimize change when taking tax into account

The tofu spinach wrap- smoked tofu, spinach, mushrooms, red onions, and balsamic vinaigrette- will set you back $7.81+tax

Terri makes an array of sandwiches (from $5.97-$7.81), wraps ($7.81), salads ($6.89), smoothies ($6.43), shakes ($5.51-$5.97), and juices ($3.67 for a small, $5.97 for a large)

64 West 23rd Street
Website will be

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Macarons At Madeleine Patisserie

In honor of Valentine's Day, Madeleine Patisserie, a family owned and operated French pastry shop located on 23rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, colored its French macarons in shades ranging from pale pink to deep purple. For patrons who opt to take a box of macarons home to a special Valentine, the holiday appropriate packaging consists of an ornate flower-patterned box lined with bright tissue paper, tied closed with colorful ribbon, and finally- to carry the dainty box of goodies- a pink gift bag. At $2.50 each the flavorful macarons are a perfectly delicious Valentine's Day treat.

Valentine's Day packaging

The French macarons are available in many flavors- my box held caramel fleur de sel, chocolate, black cherry, almond, and nougat lavender

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Baked In Telluride

Baked In Telluride, a local favorite in Telluride, Colorado, burned to the ground early Wednesday morning. The iconic red tin bakery opened in 1976 and was considered by most to be a destination unto itself. Located in the middle of the old mining town, it served a variety of items including freshly baked bread, bagels and pastries, as well as pizza, tacos, sandwiches, and soup. I adored my last trip to Telluride- my husband and I spent the mornings skiing and refueled with afternoon sandwiches and oversized cookies at Baked In Telluride.

According to a local report, Baked in Telluride caught fire around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday and was virtually consumed by 2:45 a.m. Wednesday. The cause is yet to be determined, but the fire is thought to have been started by a grease trap underneath the bakery's kitchen floor.

Street signs pointing the way to Baked In Telluride

The front of the bakery on a perfect snowy ski day

The sad scene (photo by Ben Knight - printed in the Telluride Daily Planet)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Chef Masters: Season 2

(photo from Bravo)

Bravo revealed its lineup for the impending second season of Top Chef Masters (set to premiere April 7). The competition will be hosted by Kelly Choi and judged by Gail Simmons, Gael Greene, James Oseland, and Jay Rayner. The 22 rival chefs are:

Jody Adams – Rialto Restaurant, Cambridge, Mass.
Govind Armstrong – 8 oz Burger Bar, Los Angeles, Calif.
Jimmy Bradley – The Red Cat, New York, N.Y.
David Burke – David Burke Townhouse, New York, N.Y.
Wylie Dufresne – wd~50, New York, N.Y.
Susan Feniger – Street, Los Angeles, Calif.
Debbie Gold – The American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.
Carmen Gonzalez – Chef Consultant, New York, N.Y.
Maria Hines – Tilth, Seattle, Wash.
Susur Lee – Madeline’s, Toronto, Canada
Ludo Lefebvre – Ludo Bites, Los Angeles, Calif.
Tony Mantuano – Spiaggia, Chicago, Ill.
Rick Moonen – Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev.
Mark Peel – Campanile, Los Angeles, Calif.
Monica Pope – t’afla, Houston, Texas
Thierry Rautureau – Rover’s, Seattle, Wash.
Marcus Samuelsson – The Red Rooster, New York, N.Y.
Ana Sortun – Oleana, Cambridge, Mass.
Rick Tramonto – TRU, Chicago, Ill.
Jerry Traunfeld – Poppy, Seattle, Wash.
Jonathan Waxman – Barbuto, New York, N.Y.
and the recipient of my foodie crush, returning for his second go at the title- Graham Elliot Bowles - Graham Elliot Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Paul Liebrandt For NBC's Feast

For a few hours this morning Paul Liebrandt, Executive Chef and Owner of Corton, will hand out some of his flavorful food from an NBC food truck stationed on 23rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. The food truck is a marketing tool designed to promote NBC's food website, Feast. Feast is described as "[t]he first word and final score on New York's restaurant scene... [and] will feature photos, videos, news, commentary, exhaustive listings, and the Feast Rank, the definitive meta-rating index for local restaurants."

Currently on Paul's menu- a fancy version of fish and chips- Cod Croquette, Chips, and a Spice Shaker. I can't justify eating fish and chips so early in the morning, but there are plenty of people, including numerous NBC employees with video cameras and clipboards, milling around outside of the food truck.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Joseph Leonard

Joseph Leonard is a cozy West Village restaurant named for proprietor Gabriel Stulman's grandfathers. The restaurant does not accept reservations, so my friends and I were happy when we managed to snag one of the few tables during Friday's dinner rush. Unfortunately, our dining experience did not meet our expectations.

As a result of the Joseph Leonard's small size and growing popularity, there were quite a few people waiting to eat when we took our seats. Every inch of space at the bar was taken, and every table was filled. The number of people hovering by our table shooting us dagger eyes as we ate made for a rather uncomfortable experience. In addition, while the vintage decor (complete with candlelight atop tables made from thick slabs of distressed wood, plates from Gabriel Stulman's mother's garage, and mismatched flatware from area flea markets) is extremely inviting, the casual ambiance was overpowered by loud hip-hop music resonating from the restaurant's speakers (I am by no means complaining about the playlist- a few days ago I caught NOTORIOUS on HBO and I've been on a rap kick ever since- it just seemed out of place given the scene). I would be able to get past these minor issues (as well as the flighty waitress who mysteriously disappeared with our bottle of wine) had the food been solid. Sadly- this was not the case. I would describe our meal as average- nothing was extraordinary and nothing was overtly bad.

Our meal began with onion and sourdough rolls served from a wooden box

A $15 cheese board with 5 varieties of cheese, 4 slices of grilled bread and applesauce

The side of mushrooms came slathered with too much butter

I've been digging brussels sprouts lately, and I thought the heat from the sriracha was a nice addition

Roasted beets with golden goat cheese croquettes and olive toast

Duck rillette served in a jelly jar with grilled country bread and dijon mustard

The mussels with onions, fennel, garlic and white wine were nothing special and didn't come with enough broth, but the accompanying french fries were delicious. It made me smile when I noticed the bowl for discarded mussel shells is the same pattern I received from my grandmother after I moved into my first apartment - Pyrex for the ages

Joseph Leonard's signature dish- pork hock that has been braised and deep fried- was dry

The ricotta fritters over clover honey and sprinkled with confectioner's sugar were fine but by no means outstanding